Everyone is different. Some people need complete silence to write. Some need background noise, like a TV or a coffee shop to feel inspired. I listen to music to get me in the mood to put my thoughts down. Other than writing, music is my favorite thing in the world. I’ve come up with a playlist of songs that is about four hours long that I turn on every time I write that matches the vibe of my Work In Progress. I’ve compiled a list of a handful of my favorite songs from that list that help me write every mood and situation in the book (no pun intended!)
I will have a whole separate post on songs that hold a place in my novel- songs I love so much I can see my characters playing them and have written the scenes with the intention of them being played. But this is not that post. This is solely devoted to songs that fill me with the right kind of energy to do what I love most.
I’ll preface this list by saying that these songs are listed in no particular order- that is to say that I can’t pick one to be my favorite because they’re all so different. I’ll also say that because my characters play violin and piano, there are a lot of instrumental covers here.
Let me know in the comments what songs you listen to when you write!
1. Song of Time and Song of Storms, by Taylor Davis
Starting off really strong here with one of the first songs I heard that sparked inspiration for my novel. This song just exudes “running through a magical forest” vibes. Taylor Davis is such an intense violinist and I particularly adore this piece because it sends me straight to a journey through a mystical realm.
2. Kingdom Dance, from Tangled
If I don’t dance to this at my wedding, I’m not sure I’ll be attending. This song always makes me tear up in the movie because it just sounds and looks so joyful. It is, as the name implies, a dance number, especially towards the end, and makes me think of a big room full of people dancing and laughing. I love everything about this song (and it helps that Rapunzel is my favorite Disney princess and my female main character is a blonde princess)
3. Experience, by Ludovico Einaudi
I had the great pleasure of listening to Einaudi play this song live in concert back in February when I was studying abroad in Italy. It was one of the most ethereal five minutes of my life. This song makes me feel like I’m falling in love, and there’s nothing like it - the layers upon layers of sound that build and retreat like ocean waves. I listen to this song when I want to be running down a beach towards a beckoning ocean, feeling the salty waves close over my head and exploring the depths of the sea.
4. To Lose Himself in Vengeance, by Steven Price
This song makes me think about the moment in my novel when Anthoni realizes his five-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. Everything goes cold and sharpens into focus and fury as he has nothing in his head but how to rescue his little girl. It has a haunting melody and chilling lyrics, and the whole thing just puts me in the mood to write a murdery, who-did-this-to-you scene.
5. Moonlight Sonata- Epic Trailer Version, by Hidden Citizens
Epic is indeed the best word to describe this incredible take on a classical piece. This song makes me think of my characters, walking on foot, leading their horses through the mountains as they prepare to be on the front lines of a war. This song is larger than life, and will definitely make you want to march into battle.
6. The Scientist, by David Jang
This song, a violin cover of one of my favorite Coldplay songs, sends me to a warm library, a fire flickering, as two of my characters start to fall in love through music despite their respective traumas. It’s such a sweet song and one that I listen to when I want my gruff, cranky main character to drop his guard a little bit and enjoy someone else’s company.
7. The Phoenix, by Lindsay Stirling
If you’ve never jammed out to Lindsay Stirling before, you are MISSING OUT! Stirling is a freaking wizard and you’ll be astounded by how masterfully she plays her violin. This song is all heat and passion. I’m amazed every time I hear it, and I can totally see two magical beings fighting to this, one finally admitting defeat.
8. Dragon Lullaby, by Dave Volpe
I recently stumbled upon this song and immediately fell in love with it. It’s pure piano, and even though it has no lyrics, I can almost hear it telling a story of painful adventure and love for small, fragile things. It’s got slightly discordant notes in its melody that makes me love it even more because it gives the slightly unsettled feeling that I’m looking for when I write some of the scenes in my book about a little girl scared of her magic powers.
9. Rue des trois frères, by Fabrizio Paterlini
This is a song that I’m dying to write a scene to because it’s just so perfect. It has a walking beat to it that works for a sad story and the melody sounds like someone talking. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with this song yet, but I really want to play around with it and see if I can come up with a storyline just from listening to this song. The second verse has an incredible crescendo that, to me, sounds like falling leaves. I’m obsessed with it.
10. Nuvole Bianche, by Ludovico Einaudi
This song makes me want to weep. It’s another good song for storytelling, you can hear the higher melody that almost sounds like voices. The title translates to “white clouds” in Italian, but for all the world, this song makes me think about rainy days. Not to brag, but sometimes I turn this song on when I’m sad just so I can cry to it. I wish I knew how to play piano so I could play all of these awesome piano pieces myself.
11. Earned It, by The Weeknd (and others)
This one has so many good versions that I couldn’t choose just one! Each version is so different but such a good song for your characters to get it on to! I know that the Weeknd originally wrote this for the Fifty Shades of Gray movie, and that should tell you everything you need to know about this spicy tune. I also randomly have in my head that this would be a good song to waltz to if that is one of your talents. It’s certainly not mine - I would take every shred of sex appeal out of this song by attempting to dance to it. But if your characters have been building towards a slow-burn romance, this is just the song that would make them go up in flames.
Here are a few different versions of this song, including the original - my favorite on this list, however, is definitely the Madilyn Bailey rendition!
12. Test Drive, from How To Train Your Dragon, by John Powell
Few songs make me actually tear up, but this one always makes me misty right around the two-minute mark. It helps that it’s from one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s just so brilliant with the use of horns and violins. If you close your eyes, you can practically feel the wind in your hair as you soar across the sky on the back of a dragon, or gallop through a field on a horse that trusts you. The mood for this one is definitely triumphant, and every time I listen to this song, I'm that much more tempted to sneak dragons into my novel.
13. Eleanor Rigby, orchestrated by Cody Fry
Fans of the Beatles will adore this incredible orchestration of a classic song. I implore you to lay on your bed with headphones in and your eyes closed to fully immerse yourself in this amazing, Grammy-nominated piece. This song makes me want to run through a field in my bare feet and is the perfect song for writing bold and beautiful scenes.
14. Every Inch, by Barlow and Bear
I know I said I didn’t have a favorite song on this list, but I lied. This is one of my top five favorite songs of all time. Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear wrote this song as a part of their Grammy-winning Unofficial Bridgerton Musical. I watched them write this song live on TikTok, and everything about it is brilliant. I could write a blog post entirely about this song, but I’ll try to contain my review to a few sentences. Emily Bear is one of the most talented pianists I’ve ever heard and she’s only 20 years old. Abigail Barlow does an amazing job of singing both the male and female parts of this song - her voice is magic. This song feels like falling in love in the rain, and the lyrics are perfect for two characters realizing how much they truly care for each other.
15. Middle of the Night, by Elley Duhé
This song is more on the pop-music side of things, and I adore it. It’s another sexy one, though not quite as seductive as “Earned It.” I told my best friend that this was the anthem of my two main characters before listening to the song again and realizing that the singer is asking the man to “tame” her. I then decided that my main character, Colin, was also perfectly fine with taking a woman up against the wall. So the anthem thing still works. This is another song with multiple amazing versions, all of which I've linked here because I can't pick a favorite!
16. Beauty and the Beast, by Kurt Hugo Schneider and Chase Holfelder
This song is the dark counterpart to Celine Dion’s romantic tune from the original Beauty and the Beast movie. It’s an intense, spicy waltz in a minor key. I’m convinced that Kurt Hugo Schneider can remake any song better than the original. I adore this one and listen to it whenever I’m writing scenes where my characters are dancing.
17. The Fire Within, by Jennifer Thomas
You guys...this song is incredible! It's an intense, dark, fast piano piece with an orchestra, and I've listened to it every day on repeat since I found it. It definitely gives off "running through a magical forest being chased by your enemy" vibes and I love it so much. I listen to this song when I write some of my more intense scenes.
18.. The Mystical Forest, by Tartalo Music
This song makes me think of green things. I’m synesthetic so could tell you what color each song on this list is, but this song in particular screams fresh green moss in a beautiful glen in a forest and I love imagining my characters walking through their enchanted forest on horseback, looking at how sunlight glints on leaves.
And there you have it! 18 songs (plus some bonus versions!) that help me get into whatever mood I need to write a fantastic scene! Leave your favorite song to write to in the comments and I’ll add it to my playlist. Stay tuned for my next post :)